Grassley Warns Trump Against Ousting Immigration Officials

Says "He's pulling the rug out from the very people that are trying to help him accomplish his goal."

United States Senator Chuck Grassley speaking at the Night of the Rising Stars in Des Moines, Iowa.
Photo by Gage Skidmore used under CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

At least one Republican Senator is unhappy with the chaos atop the Department of Homeland Security.

The most senior Senate Republican is warning the White House not to oust another top immigration official, making appeals to the administration against dismissing Lee Francis Cissna, the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, amid a purge of Homeland Security leaders.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said he was ”very, very concerned” regarding reports that Cissna could be next in a series of rapid-fire DHS dismissals that began late last week when the White House suddenly pulled the nomination of Ronald Vitiello, who had been tapped as director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

“One, those are good public servants,” Grassley said Monday evening, after rumors of Cissna’s potential exit percolated all day. ”Secondly, besides the personal connection I have with them and the qualifications they have, they are the intellectual basis for what the president wants to accomplish in immigration.” 

Kirstjen Nielsen, the Homeland Security secretary, submitted her resignation after meeting privately with Trump on Sunday, and the White House announced Monday that Randolph ”Tex” Alles, the director of Secret Service, would be leaving his position ”shortly.” Cissna and DHS’s general counsel, John Mitnick, could be the next to go, according to department officials. 

Grassley had already worked closely with Cissna, who had been detailed from the administration to work on the Senate Judiciary Committee when the Iowa Republican served as its chairman. Other Grassley alumni hold senior positions at the citizenship agency, including Kathy Nuebel Kovarik, who is the chief of USCIS’s Office of Policy and Strategy. 

“The president has to have some stability and particularly with the number one issue that he’s made for his campaign, throughout his two and a half years of presidency,” Grassley said. “He’s pulling the rug out from the very people that are trying to help him accomplish his goal.”

WaPo, “Grassley warns White House not to oust any more top immigration officials”

While this seems to stem more from personal pique that people he’s worked with are being targeted, Grassley is surely right that this is a bizarre way for the President to reach his ostensible goals. Still, it’s his prerogative to oust appointed he perceives to be disloyal or ineffective.

Nor is it obvious that there’s an “or else” that comes with ignoring this warning. As Chairman of the Finance Committee, Grassley certainly has the tools to make life miserable for a White House that crosses him. But there’s nothing in the way he’s conducted himself these past two years to suggest that he’s going to actually do that.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Congress, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bob@Youngstown says:

    I can understand Trump’s displeasure with Nielsen, after all she effectively told her employees to ignore illegal orders from the President. Actual insubordination!

  2. Kylopod says:

    “If you continue doing that, I will… I will…. be very displeased!”

  3. Kathy says:

    What is he going to do? Kiss Trump’s ass less passionately?

  4. Kathy says:

    Also, if Grassley were serious, he’d go over Trump’s head and talk directly with President Miller.

  5. Sleeping Dog says:

    Grassley won’t do anything unless he plans to retire at the end of his current term. Doesn’t want to be branded an immigrant loving RINO. If he were to do something it will be a huge tell.

  6. Pete S says:

    While this seems to stem more from personal pique that people he’s worked with are being targeted, Grassley is surely right that this is a bizarre way for the President to reach his ostensible goals.

    This is kind of funny in a way. Grassley has been a Senator for a long long time and I am sure is used to one of the perks of the job being the ability to get good jobs for people you like. But he cannot say this outright so he is stuck with threatening to hold his breath until he turns blue when Trump gets in his way.

  7. Mister Bluster says:

    He’s pulling the rug out from the very people that are trying to help him accomplish his goal.

    President Pud. Doing what he does best!

  8. Neil J Hudelson says:

    Trump had better watch out, or the ‘very, very concerned’ Grassley will purse his lips in disagreement. He may–may–even slightly shake his head from side to side. If Trump’s behavior worsens, there’s an outside chance you’ll hear an exasperated sigh from the good Senator.

  9. de stijl says:

    I cannot stand Grassley ever since his pointed Grandma “death panel” BS on Obamacare.

    It’s cool he grew a tail, but fuck him. I hope he figuratively drowns on Trump’s rotting ship. No bailing now, you rat!

  10. Franklin says:

    … for the President to reach his ostensible goals

    Good caveat, James. There may in fact be a significant difference between what Donald Trump says and what Stephen Miller thinks.

  11. al Ameda says:

    Yes Donald, you should be afraid, very afraid.

  12. gVOR08 says:

    @Neil J Hudelson: Grassley may go so far as to write a contemporaneous memo to his own files.

    Once again, it ain’t just Trump.

  13. An Interested Party says:

    It’s amazing how weak so many Republican male politicians are…especially compared to politicians like Nancy Pelosi and Kamala Harris…it’s like there’s some secret room in the White House that is full of jars of testicles…